Google's Panda update was unleashed to the Internet two years ago, during the “love month” of February. Originally called the Content Farmer Update, it weeded out content farms and “thin sites” from the search engine results pages. The name was later on changed to “Google Panda”, after Google confirmed it was internally named after the engineer that helped design the algorithm. Wikipedia states it affected 12% of the total search results when it was first rolled out in February. By April 2011, the Google Panda was rolled out globally, and changed how sites all over are ranked.
There have been a couple of other major algorithm changes rolled out since then, like the Penguin and the EMD update. But none has captured the attention, or caused as much effect to SEO, as the Google Panda update. It’s affected the netizen so much that SEORoundtable publishes constant Google Panda Update posts.
In affiliate marketing, Google Panda has been a buzzword since it was first rolled out. It has been blamed for sites that have disappeared in the SERPs, or for dropping rank. If anything, the Google Panda update has changed how affiliate marketing sites are built and promoted.
“Content is king”: This has been said in various forums, but it’s not as true anymore. Before the Google Panda, you only need high-quality content on your site. By high quality, we mean informative articles free from grammatical errors; Comprehensible posts that give value to your readers. But these days, after the Google Panda, you need to publish content that will impress readers. Better yet, make it the kind of content that users will want to share on their social media accounts like their Facebook wall or on Twitter. Your content needs to amaze, entertain or inform users enough that you get that Facebook Like. That’s tough, I know, but aim for that kind of quality each time you publish something on your site.
Good content is not just to evade the big, bad Google Panda. It’s for your users as well. Good content keeps readers on your site, and helps to keep them come back to your site. Quality content makes it easier for you to build trust with your target market, and convince them to purchase from your site, instead of from another; Just all-good reasons to motivate you to publish only the best content on your site.
Sam wrote an Affilorama blog post on how to write Google Panda-approved articles. You can start taking tips from that article, and apply them to your site’s content.
Enhance User Experience
I went to a hospital recently for a check-up and on the wall right behind my doctor’s receptionist was a poster that said, “We want to WOW you.” What does that have to do with the Google Panda and your affiliate marketing site? Well… that’s what you want to do to your users, to those people that visit your site. You wow them with content; you better wow them with your site too. After all, what’s the point of having amazing content, if it’s presented on a webpage filled with irrelevant ads and images?
With the Google Panda update, you need to make sure that people enjoy being on your site. Don’t make them run after the full article. If you have AdSense, pick just one spot to put the ads. Insert interesting, related images to make your article more reader-friendly. Look at the design of the site itself: Does that neon orange header match with the green background? Are the fonts readable, or are they too big? If your site doesn’t look good to you, chances are, they won’t look good to the readers either.
Keep in Touch with the User
The Google Panda update looks at your site’s metrics, and this is because your site’s metrics are good indicators of how great the user experience is on your site. Take for example your site’s browse rate. A high browse rate would mean that the user spends time looking at your webpages and articles. Google is now looking at the diversity as well as the quantity of the traffic you are getting on your site. Are you getting plenty of traffic from within your area, or are you getting traffic from other countries too? Where does the traffic mainly come from? These are just some of the things the great Google Panda are looking at in terms of ranking your site.
As far as the Google Panda is concerned content is not king, their users are. That is the essence of the Google Panda algorithm.
We can all bemoan it. We can all whine about how it has made SEO all the more mind-boggling, but it’s not rocket science: If you want to be friends with the Google Panda, then be best friends with your users.
I’m going to get back to reviewing AffiloBlueprint, our current post-Panda course. Get AffiloBlueprint here and learn how to beat Google at their own game. I hope you like my post! I would love to hear about what you think. Show me some love and leave a comment! :)